ACM ICMR - Examples of Budget Items
(from the ACM meeting request forms)



The purpose of this section is to assure a realistic estimate of the costs associated with conducting the technical meeting (based on the ACM TMRF). The budget will be reviewed carefully.  Note that this is only an estimate of the budget.

Registration Income

Registration counts should be estimated conservatively as it is better to estimate too low than too high. All surpluses are returned to the sponsoring sub-unit to fund non-revenue producing activities, or to subsidize student activities. The most frequent reason that a conference does not deliver its surplus to the sponsoring sub-unit is an overestimation of registration revenue. You should base your estimates on the previous year's actual registration, unless you know of some factor, which would lower the participation (location of meeting, other conferences being held on the same topic, reduction in the SIG membership, etc.).

Please Note: As an incentive to encourage advance registration, which cuts down on personnel for on-site registration and also gives an indication of the expected number of attendees, conferences should offer a discount for early registration. There should be a deadline of approximately one month before the conference and the discount should be substantial enough ($50-$100) to make it worthwhile to the registrant. This also means that registration forms will have to be available several weeks before the early registration deadline. If membership dues are to be accepted at the conference the procedure must be reviewed in advance by ACM.

In budgeting income, attendance should be conservatively estimated by category: Members registration fees (except student fees) should be approximately 25% lower than the fees for non-ACM/SIG Members. Conferences of two or more days should consider offering one-day registrations. The categories of registrations reflected in the budget are for planning purposes only. You may or may not wish to have all of these registration categories. There are four possible classes of registrants at a SIG meeting: l) ACM and SIG members, 2) ACM only, 3) SIG only, 4) Non-ACM and Non-SIG.

The registration fee for an above numbered class cannot be higher than that of the next higher numbered class. This policy does not apply to special classes like students, exhibitors, etc.

Please note: There can be no special registration fees for academic employees.

If complimentary registrations are provided, please attach a list indicating for whom such exceptions are being made. Keep in mind that complimentary registrations will affect your registration income, so dispense complimentary registrations with discretion and only if they have been included in the budget. Complimentary registrations are normally given to press representatives so that editorial coverage might be afforded the conference.

Special Functions

Income from special functions, which is not included in the registration fee, should be based on the estimated price of tickets and the number you expect to sell. Tickets should be priced at cost plus 20% to cover contingencies (such as minimum guarantees) and comps. Most hotels and conference facilities will require minimum guarantees from 48 to 72 hours in advance. Therefore, estimates should be conservative and the Conference Committee should be cautioned against over committing. Guarantees for food and beverage functions can always be increased, but never decreased.

On-site Merchandise Sales

The pricing of SIG Proceedings is calculated as follows: ACM/SIG Members $.07 per page / Non-Members $.14 per page. Therefore, if you are planning to have a 400 page proceedings, ACM's post-conference selling price would be Members $28.00/Non-Members $56.00. The conference committee may price the proceedings for on-site sales using the post conference prices as a guideline. Conferences should make extra copies of the proceedings available on-site. Estimate only the income from sales of proceedings at the conference. Proceedings of SIG conferences sold by ACM Headquarters after the conference are credited to the sponsoring SIG(s). Aside from the member discount given, the conference policy regarding who shall not be given free copies or proceedings (e.g., student, partial registrations) will influence the number of proceedings sold. Conference by-products such as CD-ROM's, posters, T-shirts, mugs, etc. can also be listed in this section.


The registration fee suggestions listed above also apply to tutorials.

Exhibits Program

Average industry increase for growth in Exhibit space is 3-5%. Therefore, you should budget conservatively. Exhibits should be included as part of the program only if the hands-on examination of equipment products or face to face discussion is very important to the audience. Both technical program participants and exhibitors must agree that exhibits add a positive dimension if exhibits are to be successful.

The rate charged for exhibitors must cover all costs associated with the exhibit and should provide some financial contribution to the conference. In 2002, ACM Conferences charged in the range of $1500 -$2,750 per 8' x 10' or 10' x 10' booth. Table top exhibit fees ranged between $150 and $600.

Miscellaneous Income

Before solicitation is made for funds from sources outside ACM, it is best to check with ACM to be certain that the policy on Solicitation of Funds is adhered to. All NSF Grant requests must obtain ACM Headquarters approval in advance of submission. Solicitation of funds of small magnitude (not to exceed $5,000), from a single source and which are for specific goals or services of temporary value may be approved in advance by the chairman of the ACM sub-unit, as appropriate, who shall also be responsible for ensuring that donors are acknowledged and thanked. A copy of the acknowledgment letter shall be provided to the ACM Director of SIG Services (Donna Cappo - The purpose of the fundraising should be identified to donors and should be directly related to the sub-unit's activities, e.g., chapter newsletter, travel to programming contest, conference reception, etc.

When soliciting funds of small magnitude, sub-units should restrict their solicitations to organizations related to the sub-unit's scope of activity, e.g., corporations or branches thereof in the geographical area of a chapter or conference, organizations with products or services in the technical area of the sub-unit. In accepting small donations, sub-units shall not obligate ACM to any liabilities or delivery of services. Credits acknowledging donors are appropriate, e.g., in newsletters or conference programs.

Other Solicitations

Any solicitation of funds that exceeds the threshold of small magnitude, or is outside the other limitations defined above, requires the advance approval of the ACM President. Requests for approval will be sent in writing to the ACM President with a copy to the ACM Executive Director, providing the specific details for the requirement, the dollar amount of funds to be solicited, and the organizations to be solicited. No action should be taken until approval is received. In those instances where the donor requires a special letter for tax purposes, the ACM Executive Director upon receipt of such request will prepare the letter. Some conferences are funded in part by grants (NSF, corporate, school) or gifts. This income should be included in the budget and appropriate confirmation of such funding or in-kind contributions must be on file before the meeting can be approved.
Interest earned on bank account, investments, etc. should also be included in miscellaneous income.

Meeting Expense Detail

The budget suggests three promotional pieces for the conference: a Call for Papers (CFP), an Advance Program (AP) and a Final Program (FP). The Advance Program could also be used as a Final Program for distribution at the conference. Each conference may, of course, determine its own promotion program. We have found, however, that an average of 20% of the conference budget should be allocated to the promotional activities. Most CFP's and AP's are printed and mailed by an ACM vendor. Because of the special permit requirements for third class bulk mail, it is usually more efficient to use the mailing house than to mail flyers yourself. There are many cost components to each publicity brochure. Therefore, this budget may seem very detailed, but it is supposed to call to your attention to items, which you may have overlooked.


Should you decide to have your programs professionally typeset be sure to include this cost in the conference budget. Special artwork/design should also be included in this line item.


For an estimate on printing prices please gather your specifications and forward to SIG Services


ACM SIG(s) lists are complimentary to ACM sponsored and co-sponsored conferences. If the conference will be promoted to outside organizations which charge a fee for their mailing lists include that cost in this line item. The average cost for outside lists is $125.00/1,000.


A mail house will charge approximately $50/1,000 to set their machines to label self-mailers and envelopes. ACM's mail house utilizes an ACM provided diskette and ink jets the name, address and 9-digit zip code directly onto the mail piece.

Envelope Insertion

Generally, direct mail pieces are self-mailers but envelopes are required for all mailings outside the USA. You can assume that an average of 20% of membership mailings is outside of the USA.

U.S. Postage

ACM is entitled to 3rd class Bulk rate, due to its not-for-profit status. Every effort should be made to prepare mailings far enough in advance to use ACM's special bulk mailing rate, which may take up to 4 weeks for delivery. First Class mailings must be budgeted and requested specifically. Bulk rate applies only to mailings within the USA. If you will not be utilizing ACM mail services, a permit must be applied for at the specific post office from which the third class mailing will be done. Rigid requirements for sorting and bundling mail must be adhered to in order for the post office to accept mail at the bulk rate. Most mailings are budgeted at this rate unless there are special reasons to mail First Class.

Non-US Postage

All overseas mailings are sent by airmail or especially drop-shipped as a matter of ACM policy. Estimate that 20% of your mailing list will be outside the U.S.


Include the cost to ship brochures in bulk to members of the committee. This depends on the size of the committee and their locations. Average cost is $15.00 per shipment.


This section of the spreadsheet allows you to budget for advertisements in journals for each of the direct mail pieces.

Committee Expenses

This category is for the general conference committee. Program Committee expenses are to be listed under section 3400. One's employer normally assumes committee expenses. However, in some situations, expenses such as clerical support telephone, supplies, copying, postage, and limited committee travel (when not available from other sources) are legitimate.

Other (mementos, etc.)

As a not-for-profit scientific society, tokens of appreciation and modest mementos may be given to conference committee volunteers but cash remuneration, major gifts, or gift certificates are not permitted. The budget should include the cost of such mementos.

Committee Meetings

Expenses should be budgeted for requirements of the Conference Committee for meeting, travel (including local travel), food service, etc. Funds should be allocated for hotel sleeping rooms and subsistence for key Conference Committee members who are receiving travel support.

Committee Social Functions

The costs of social functions for members of the Conference Committee should be indicated in the budget. These functions should not be extravagant.

Registration Expenses

Pre and on-site registration management is one of the most important activities at the conference. It is usually the first activity a meeting registrant encounters and therefore sets the tone for the meeting in that person's mind. Since on-site registration is also where many problems surface, it may be easier to have a third party responsible for carrying out the policies of the conference committee.


Registration personnel should be hired from local convention bureaus if volunteers are not available. Costs will be in the range of $10.00 - $12.50 per hour with a minimum of 4 to 8 hours per day. The direct expenses of professional management personnel should also be included here (travel, hotel, etc.).

Computer Rental

Local equipment rental agencies should be used for equipment (for badges), and any other office equipment required. Contact the hotel or convention bureau to obtain their sources and prices.

Registration Desk Rental

Registration counters can range from $35 - $125 depending on style choice. However, if you have exhibits and are hiring an "Exhibit Decorating Firm" to provide booths, registration counters are normally included on a complimentary basis. A 50% courtesy discount should also be extended to all other decorating equipment rentals paid for by the conference.


Include estimated telephone hookup charges and any data communications charges for computer operations.

Registration Supplies

Badges, ribbons and tickets are available from local suppliers. Generally prices are in the range of $25.00 per hundred for plastic badge holders and blank inserts. Suppliers can quote actual costs.


On-Site Logistical Expenses

Room Rental

Normally room rental is waived if your meeting brings in a reasonable number of sleeping room nights relative to the number of meeting rooms required. Remember that hotels build meeting space so that they can attract sleeping room and food and beverage revenue. The more you can quantify your past room and food/beverage use, the more leverage you will have in negotiating low meeting room rates.


Signs for the registration area will often cost as much as $45 - $100 each from sign makers. Be realistic in your budgeting process in this area. Check with the hotel to find out what kind of signs they will provide.

Audio Visual

Check the local supplier for the cost of audio visual equipment and budget liberally as most speakers will require at least an overhead, data projector and screen. Rates are by the day regardless of how many hours the equipment is used. Video equipment, including TV screens, is generally more expensive than other types. Most conference facilities and hotels can give you a list of reputable suppliers they deal with. Check the facility for union regulations, which may require operators for all, or certain types of equipment. Keep in mind early meetings may require double time pay.

Music Licensing Fees

These are required to be paid to both ASCAP and BMI if you are planning on having recorded or live music at your event. The fee is based on the number of people at the event with a different fee scale for recorded and live. ACM has a blanket license however; each conference must file a specific form if music is to be played during the event. Contact ACM for forms and fees. Completed forms should be submitted to ACM, along with a check for payment. The actual filing of the forms will be handled by an ACM/SIG Staff Liaison

Conference Food and Beverage

This section of the budget is to include those food and beverage events that are included as part of the normal registration fee. By keeping this separate from the events which require a separate fee, you will be able to look at the finances from a break-even standpoint. Budgeting for receptions and food functions is difficult. Check menus, taxes and gratuities, and beverage costs with the catering manager carefully before making commitments.

The most reliable source of cost estimates will be the Catering Manager at the facility where you are planning to hold your event. Even if you have not finalized or perhaps even chosen the site, if you know generally which city you will be in, then you can estimate your food and beverage from hotel menus with increases built in for future prices. This budget will automatically calculate an 18% service fee and an 8.5% tax on all food and beverage listed. You may adjust this formula in the spreadsheet based on the local taxes and gratuities required at the conference site.

Social functions are an excellent means of communication among registrants. These functions, however, are expected to be of modest expense and in good taste. Costs of social functions may be included in the conference registration fees but should not necessitate extravagant fees.



The conference expense of printing proceedings should include all copies being shipped to the conference. Quantities for single copy sale should be factored into the cost estimates but will be paid for by the SIG. Whether the SIG is to purchase copies for sale after the conference or is to distribute the proceedings to the membership, you must coordinate with the ACM/SIG Program Coordinator for Proceedings (Adrienne Griscti - to be sure that the amount budgeted by both the SIG and the conference are the same.

If you choose not to use the ACM printing services, guidelines for production of proceedings are available on the ACM web-site. An ACM/SIG Program Coordinator for Proceedings sign-off is required on Proceedings Covers, Spines, and Title Page and Copyright Forms.

Cost Allocated to Conference

Based on the total amount printed, indicate the unit cost and the number to be charged to the conference.

Shipping to conference site

First, consider the cost of shipping the proceedings to the conference site. The costs will depend on the distance and whether there is time to ship by surface transportation.

Shipping Proceedings post-conference

Organizers should ship the remaining proceedings from the conference to the ACM warehouse for post conference sales.


Based on the total amount produced indicate the unit cost and the number to be charged to the conference.

Speakers Expenses


Ordinarily ACM does not pay a speaker's fee but special speakers for keynotes or banquets will often charge expenses and a modest honorarium. A modest honorarium is defined in the ACM Policies and Procedures as not exceeding $600 in value per day.


Some conferences include sleeping accommodations with full registration or the conference agrees to pay certain expenses for the speaker (in keeping with the overall ACM travel and per diem policies). In some instances it may be necessary to pay for a speaker's transportation to the conference and related expenses.

Program Committee Expense

Refer to the section on Committee Expenses


Forms should be designed under the direction of the Conference Chair and Program Chair. Each registrant should be asked to submit a completed form at the conclusion of the conference. This will enable the Chair to provide a summary and review of the event for the sponsoring sub-unit.



Honoraria guidelines for Tutorials speakers are $350 per half-day tutorial, and $700 per full-day tutorial. Occasionally travel and subsistence within the ACM travel and per diem guidelines may also be paid. With each Speaker Agreement Letter, you should provide for cancellation without penalty if the tutorial sign up does not meet a break-even number by 30 days prior to the conference.

Meeting Room Expenses

See On-site Logistics Section Tutorial Books /Course Notes - Indicate printing expenses for tutorial materials to be distributed to attendees.

Tutorial Food & Beverage

See Conference Food and Beverage Section

Exhibits Program

While tabletop programs generally require only the expense of the meeting rooms and solicitations by the committee, exhibit programs are more complex and involve additional risk of loss. The budget includes expenses for exhibit space, storage, booth setup, decorating requirements, sales (telephone, printing of brochures, mailings, etc.), drayage, signs, planned social functions, on-site security, additional insurance (if necessary) and management of the exhibit area. Prior discussion with others who have managed exhibits is highly recommended.

Financial Activity

Bank charges

Include charges for checks wire transfers, monthly fees, etc.

U.S.A. based conferences have the option of choosing between an ACM in-house Account and a Merrill Lynch Bank Account to handle the conference finances. Please note that there are fees associated with utilizing a Merrill Lynch Bank Account. Please contact Stephen Sisler ( for further information.

Returned Checks

Normally a fee is assessed for every check received by the conference but returned by the bank on which it is drawn for one reason or another. Past history for the conference is the best indicator.

Credit Card Discounts

If you accept credit cards for conference registration and other fees, the bank deducts a certain percentage from the total amount processed as a transaction fee. The use of credit cards can therefore reduce revenue by as much as 5%. If this cost can be offset in additional registration because of payment convenience, these assumptions should be reflected in your budget planning. Increase may occur if a recognizable percentage is non-US, or there are many conference publications and other merchandise.

International Transactions

Checks received from non-US banks incur additional expenses in the converting process. The charges are assessed to the recipient of the check. Requiring checks in US Currency eliminates the exchange process. These requirements should be clearly noted on the registration form. Past records can give you an idea as to how many of these to budget for.

Bookkeeping Services

Fees for on-site cash management, etc. are highly recommended if the complexity of the conference exceeds the accounting experience of the treasurer. The cost estimates should come from the supplier directly, as those fees can vary greatly.

Bad Debts

The conference is responsible for collecting all fees due with the conference. In most cases, badges, proceedings, exhibit services should be withheld until full payment is made. If for some reason this policy can not be adhered to, some estimate should be made for uncollected fees.

Credit Card Processing

By processing the credit card transactions through ACM, the conference can avail itself of lower fees available as a result of higher volume (all ACM transactions) and eliminate the need to negotiate a separate credit card agreement with a bank.

Audit Review

Conference Management Fee is required in the budget for all conferences with a budget/actual over $500,000 revenue or expense. The cost estimate for this is roughly $7000.

Conference Management

Include outside services in this section such as conference management, destination management, etc.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Any items that don't fit in the spreadsheet should be listed under miscellaneous expenses.

ACM Overhead Fee (please note the exception form below)

ACM/SIG - Since the sponsoring SIGs pay an ACM Overhead Fee to ACM for both intangible support (insurance, legal representation, tax-exempt status, etc.) and for tangible services (advances, maintaining membership lists, specific staff services, copyright handling, etc.), every activity is expected to provide a contribution to that assessment. Each SIG will have specific needs and guidelines, which you should discuss with the Sponsoring SIG Chair(s) or the ACM/ SIG Staff Liaison. You should estimate that amount to be about 16% of total expenses.

ACM Overhead Fee for ACM Conference Activities

The ACM SIG leadership representing all 34 SIGs voted to change the way overhead fees are assessed. After 12 years of basing the payments on revenue they chose to change the formula and base it on expenses. The same formula is in place for all ACM SIGs, their programs and conferences. This required return is not a fee for service but the cost of doing business as part of the ACM organization. The SIG leaders decided on a sliding scale starting at 16% and dropping by .8% for every $125K of expenses to a minimum of 5.35%.

At the request of the SIG Chairs, the TMRF has been modified to accommodate this new formula and calculates the Overhead Fee at 16% based on the total expense budget of the conference. This fee may be customized by the SIG leadership with the understanding that the SIG is responsible for the full fee based on the conferences actual expenses. The decision to bring the ACM Overhead Fee to a point where the SIG is subsidizing the conference should be considered very carefully as it will be unsustainable for any length of time.

The SIG leaders have directed ACM to formulate the ACM Overhead Fee at 16% in the conference budget section of the TMRF. Should a conference organizer want an exception to this policy, they should request approval from the SIG Chair or SIG Vice-Chair for Conference Activity. That SIG Leader will be asked to sign the exception to policy agreement indicating that they understand the SIG will cover the cost of the full overhead if the conference does not.

Other Sponsor Administrative Fees

Many other societies with whom ACM co-sponsors conferences require that money is budgeted to pay certain society expenses. For co-sponsored conferences, it makes no difference that one society may have a higher fee than another may. The fee is never paid directly by the conference. It is budgeted as an expense to ensure that the surplus to cover these expenses is planned. The fees are returned to each sponsor as part of the surplus at the end of the conference. Keep in mind that if the conference is co-sponsored, that the amount realized by each sponsor will be in proportion to his or her sponsorship percentage. Therefore, if there are multiple sponsors, the largest amount required by any of the sponsors must be divided by the sponsor percentage of sponsorship to determine adequate amount for budgeting purposes.


Estimate approximately 15% of total expenses as contingency. This will provide a cushion to cover unanticipated increases in expense, such as food & beverage expense, postal increases, printing costs, accessibility, and any shortfalls in attendance.

Please Note: If utilizing the spreadsheet version of the TMRF, the summary and break-even analysis will automatically be calculated.

Revenue and Expense Summary

These summaries are completed after the Budget Detail is completed. It is useful to provide the previous year information as a point of reference for both your planning and the reviewers' evaluation. The summaries group the revenue and expense by categories as reflected in the Budget Detail. Expenses are broken into 2 categories:

Fixed expenses

The number of registrants does not affect those expenses. This includes all of those expenses which, because of lead times, must be based on some figures other than actual registration. The separation in this budget summary cannot take into account all of the differences found conference to conference, so it is to be used as a general guideline. Fixed expenses will also give you some idea of potential loss in the event of cancellation, since these are normally incurred before a decision to cancel might be considered. All expenses except financial and conference food and beverage are considered fixed.

Variable expenses

These are expenses, which can be increased or reduced depending on the number of registrants. Conference food and beverage and financial activities are variable all other expenses are considered fixed.

Break-even Analysis

This is another way of looking at the revenues and expenses so that you can evaluate the effect of certain parts of the program on the overall finances of the conference. It will also help you to understand which conference activities are subsidizing other activities. And, over time, it will help you to see patterns in attendance, giving you some insight into changes going on with the member preferences.

Break-even Number of Registrants

The importance of understanding the break-even number of registrants for the conference is that it enables you to evaluate the degree of risk associated with your attendance assumptions. By comparing your break-even attendance to the previous year's actual attendance, you will get some idea about the probability of the conference plan materializing.

The calculation here assumes Tutorials, Special Functions, and Exhibits to break even, i.e., REVENUES will equal EXPENSES. If you expect a surplus of revenue over expenses for any of these areas, deduct that surplus from the total of fixed expenses and contingency. If you expect a deficiency of revenue compared to expenses, add that deficiency to the total of fixed expenses. Since each of those activities themselves is a variable expense, creating different scenarios will provide different break-even registration numbers.

Average Income per person

[Registration income + on-site proceedings sales] /budgeted # registrants]

Variable Cost per person

Variable expenses / budgeted # registrants

Break-even number of registrants

(Fixed expenses + contingency) / (Average income per person - variable cost per person)